John Hollman was fully expecting, just like all the other years, to forfeit his heavyweight class Tuesday night.
The Bluffton High School wrestling coach didn't know he even had a name to pencil in his lineup there until Monday, when Josh Darrell first approached him about joining the Bobcats this winter. The senior, who doubles as a right guard on the football team, was finally ready to give the mat a shot after some coaxing from teammates.
"I came to (Hollman) in class," Darrell recalled. "Fourth block. I said, 'Hey, I'm thinking about wrestling.' He was like, 'Come out today.' "
Even then Hollman wasn't convinced. After all, Darrell only had an hour's worth of practice time that afternoon before joining Bluffton for its home opener against Sumter on Tuesday night.
"I hadn't planned on wrestling him tonight at all," Hollman said. "(But) he's going to do it, he's committed to it, he's sold on it."
It took some convincing, but Hollman finally caved to his newfound heavyweight. And Darrell didn't disappoint, either, as he helped lift Bluffton to a 46-27 win with a first-period pin in his first career match.
The victory, which came after he powered over Alex Perales before driving him into the mat 48 seconds in, sent his teammates on the sideline into a frenzy. The Bobcats promptly responded with wins in five of their next six matches to cruise to victory, including pins from Kaden and Talon Seitz at 106 and 138 pounds, respectively.
"It's hard not to feed off of that," Hollman said. "I told him after the match that I can't say enough about his guts, his heart, his determination to do that. A lot of kids would run scared."
Hollman has ached for a heavyweight for several years now, as his Bluffton team maneuvered through the last few seasons without a bigger wrestler on the roster. He finally got his wish in Darrell, despite him not arriving until the 11th hour.
"For whatever reason the last few years, we haven't been able to get the big guys to come out," he said. "They're out walking the halls, they're here in the building, they're on the football team. They're here. But for whatever reason, we haven't been able to get them to come out the last two or three years.
"Unfortunately, it's cost our team."
It didn't cost them Tuesday, though Darrell probably couldn't tell you that. He realized he had won, but not much else beyond that.
"I remember just hitting the table, them saying (my name) and then shaking hands with him," he recalled of his match. "It all went blank from there."
Bluffton 46, Sumter 27
NOTE: Match started at 152
106: Kaden Seitz (BLF) pinned Majid Corbett, 1st period
113: Javier Lopez (BLF) won by forfeit
120: Levi Joly (BLF) dec. Trevor Keffer
126: Brian Budden (S) pinned Buddy Drew, 2nd period
132: Lloyd Williams (BLF) maj. dec. Caleb Jackson
138: Talon Seitz (BLF) Zach Harrill, 1st period
145: Mac Mota (S) pinned Tommy Heslin, 2nd period
152: Brandon Johnson (BLF) dec. Armand Sowell
160: Trevor Moxley (S) pinned Jordan Stephens, 1st period
170: Mike Meyerink (BLF) pinned Jeremy Harrill, 1st period
182: Zaid Rueda (BLF) pinned Richburg Canty, 1st period
195: Reco Nicholson (S) dec. Andres Nava
220: David Pringle (S) pinned Leo Boyd, 1st period
285: Josh Darrell (BLF) pinned Alex Perales, 1st period